Row over plan for Lichfield school transport review

A Staffordshire school bus parked up

A Staffordshire school bus parked up

A row has erupted over a planned review of school transport in Lichfield.

There has been widespread criticism after children as young as 10 were forced to walk three miles along busy roads from Whittington to King Edward VI School in Lichfield or pay school bus fees which have doubled over the last two years.

An announcement by opposition Conservatives at Staffordshire County Council that they will carry out a review on the way school transport is provided should they win control of the County Council in June, follows months of angry exchanges between Matthew Ellis, Lichfield Rural East’s County Councillor, and education bosses in Stafford.

The bad feeling culminated in a Freedom of Information Request providing details of how the safety of the walk to Lichfield was assessed and decisions around free transport made.

But Cllr Ellis says the information he now has only reinforces the fact that the current policy deciding who does and does not qualify for free school transport and also the way the safety of walking routes are assessed is wrong.

He said that, months on, Whittington parents are still angry about what has happened:

“The recession has put some parents in the dreadful situation of having to balance their worsening finances against the possible risk to their children walking along what most people locally believe are dangerous roads. Of course there have to be rules but the fact that in neighbouring properties one child receives a free place but the youngster next door doesn’t is difficult to justify when they would both have to walk exactly the same route to school bar a few yards.

“It makes it all the more foolish when school buses are leaving villages like Whittington with empty seats and then driving past children who are having to walk the same route. The £17million cost of the County-owned yellow bus fleet is prohibitive and the fact that so many yellow buses are parked by the roadside between school pick up and drop off times is a waste of tax payers’ money. The review is likely to find that providing a subsidised young persons’ travel card for normal public transport will not only make it cheaper for those going to school but will also provide an excellent opportunity to expand commercial public transport services across rural areas.”

The County’s current policy assessing whether a walk to school is safe has been criticised by Whittington parents. They say it fails to account for the time of year and whether the walk is done in daylight or darkness, ignores the fact that during summertime the verges which make up for the lack of any footways are not available because of dense seasonal vegetation and ignores the views of the local parish council.

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Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.

10 Comments

  1. PPL

    2nd August, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    This is crazy, maybe if they walked more then we would not have so many obese kids.

  2. TaxPayer

    2nd August, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    It is important to get these kids used to paying tax’s.
    They can use their pocket money to buy a ticket.
    Explain to them some one has to pay for cheap theater tickets.
    Where do they think the money comes from to subsidize the nights out for the well off?

  3. Freddy

    2nd August, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    This article is from over a year ago. The conservatives now control the county council, did they carry out a review of school transport provision or not?

  4. TaxPayer

    3rd August, 2010 at 1:40 am

    ” The conservatives now control the county council”

    These days can you tell them apart?

    They all seem to be happy only when they are spending our money.

    How much has been wasted on Friarsgate? Why does it take so long to think about the multi-story car park?

  5. Raoul Duke

    4th August, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    If kids rely on Local Public Transport to get to school – expect attendance levels to drop. Buses round here never run on time and often don’t turn up. 

  6. Johnny

    5th August, 2010 at 10:12 am

    TaxPayer: you pay taxes (I’m assuming), but you don’t seem capable of putting much effort into finding where your taxes go.
    It’s easy to point the finger from the comfort of your PC, but without any substance behind it you just end up looking like a muppet.

    Living Room politics from people who have literally no idea about anything really gets on my wick.

    Also – it’s ‘taxes’ not “tax’s”

  7. TaxPayer

    5th August, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    “Johnny”

    I have to admit you have lost me!What are you going on about?
    The council have a pot of cash and decide where/how to spend it – in one example above the council decided to subsidize theatre seats and charge school kids for the bus – they could have helped the kids and not subsidize the theatre.
    I know a lot of my taxes (have paid and still paying more than 6 decades – never missed a week/year) have been wasted on the Garrick – planning for the Friars Gate – and waiting for a decision on the multi story.
    I think that’s enough to be going on with.

    By the way did you know it is bad etiquette to criticize the odd spelling mistake on the internet .

  8. Asellus aquaticus

    5th August, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    Actually Taxpayer, Lichfield District Council and Staffordshire County Council are two entirely different organisations.

    All councils might look the same to you, but they’re not.

  9. TaxPayer

    5th August, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    “All
    councils might look the same to you, but they’re not. ” Actually I was referring to the difference between CON /LAB/LIB but with regard to the different layers of gov the sooner we reduce them the better.

  10. Nick Brickett

    7th August, 2010 at 11:58 am

    I think that’s a punctuation mistake rather than a spelling one.

    *backs cautiously away from torch-wielding masses* :)